Blur have released their music video for 'Ong Ong' today, directed by Tony Hung. The Atari-inspired concept sees a bright yellow circle that adventures across vibrant side scrolling platform video game, eventually meeting the members of Blur who are dressed as an ice cream cone, a giant fly and monsters.
The album from which 'Ong Ong' comes from is called 'The Magic Whip', which was recorded in Avon Studios on Nanking Street, Jordan, Hong Kong. The album's artwork showcases a neon ice cream cone with the traditional Chinese characters for 'Blur' and 'The Magic Whip'.
The album has proved to be a successful comeback for the band, whose last record was more than 12 years ago ('Thinktank' in 2003). The album was derived from a 5-day break the band took in Hong Kong and is itself immersed in influences from their stay.
In a 21st century world where China is at the forefront of international relations and is having an increasingly important influence on the world, it is interesting to see how this effect has trickled down into music culture. Blur, who were pioneers of the Brit-pop movement, could not have created a better reflection for life in England during the 90's. Songs like Parklife and Country House became British anthems, but now, the band has drawn their latest inspiration from the East. Regarding the album conceptually, Alex Jones from Blur, said 'you can feel the closed in claustrophobia of Hong Kong but it's also a very romantic album, lots of beautiful melodies balanced by angry guitars.'
Damon Albarn, Blur's lead songwriter has done his research. 'I spent quite a lot of time in China and I really love the culture but there's this extraordinary sense of control that goes on almost subliminally everywhere and I have a better understanding of it now having read about the true nature of the cultural revolution. I kind of understand why there's so much control I don't necessarily agree with many aspects of that control but I think it is the magic whip and the whip is control and the magic is very prevalent in the Far East.'
The Blur boys have really embraced Hong Kong in their latest work. Lyrics in their work include 'I got on a boat on a hot sunny day/To get out of this town/Cause the tarmac was melting and the people seemed to sway/Stuck in the underground' from 'Ong Ong' and 'Mass produced in somewhere hot/You'll have to go on the Underground/To get things done here (And then you have to see)/ If you need a yellow duck - service done' from 'Lonesome Street'. Anyone who has spent any time in Hong Kong can instantly relate to these lyrics and the yellow duck reference is certainly one we were excited about at BC Project. Even the title of 'Ong Ong' is a clear tribute to the City itself, from a British perspective (Del Boy discussing Rodney's move to 'ong 'ong certainly flashes back here). The instrumental chimes in 'Ong Ong' even ring out in an oriental style.
Indeed, Chinese inspiration and influences can be found throughout the album, but yet it still sounds distinctly like a Blur record. This thereby begs the question - will Asia be the next place the music industry targets? Currently, the international music industry is firmly cemented in the West. The UK, the USA and Europe are home to today's best artists and the USA remains unparalleled for its thriving music scene. The Beatles couldn't set a trend for Indian influences, but could Blur be the trendsetters of this generation's artists, as they were in 90s? I certainly hope so.